For many years Finke River Mission (FRM) has been offering congregations in each language area resources and training. At the same time FRM has encouraged congregations to support their own pastors and to build and maintain their own churches. This is beneficial because it produces the most resilient and vibrant worshipping communities.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at Areyonga is a fine example of a strong and proud congregation. Services are held each Sunday, the choir is active,
the church is cleaned regularly and well maintained, and Sunday school and bible study (even bible translation work) are commonplace. And according to local parish worker Daphne Puntjina, ‘When the church is strong, the community is also strong.’
In 2013 Areyonga leaders met with Central Land Council staff to decide how to spend some of the lease money that resulted from the NT National Emergency Response (so-called ‘Intervention’). The first item they placed on the shopping list was a church extension. The work has finally been completed. With much joy and celebration local church treasurer, Margaret Poulson exclaimed, ‘Now we have room to fit everyone in the church. People don’t have to sit outside anymore.’
On February 22nd, local pastor, Charlie Chirrup, performed the first baptism in the renovated church, and retired pastor, Djala Andrews, helped dedicate the new furniture and other sacred items that were proudly received from an opening procession of local children. The choir voices boomed in the ‘new’ church as the fine old acoustics remained due to the incorporation of the original roof and central structure into the extension design.
We rejoice with the people of Areyonga and with God’s grace the renovations will serve this long-established congregation for another 65 years!